See the Signs, Save a Life

Suicidal feelings can affect anyone, of any age, gender or background, at any time. This page explains how to support someone with suicidal thoughts.

See the Signs, Save a Life?

See the Signs, Save a Life is a Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Luton based campaign  to encourage awareness of how to support someone with suicidal thoughts and encourage us to talk openly about suicide.

Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone

About 6,000 people die by suicide each year in the UK - an average of 16 per day. This is more than all deaths from road traffic accidents. Many more people, about 1 in 5, will experience suicidal thoughts at some point in their life. There are many reasons why someone can feel this way.

Suicide is preventable

Thankfully only a minority of people who have suicidal thoughts go on to take their lives and the right action can support them. People often just need someone to talk to.

What can I do?

If you’re worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, try to encourage them to talk openly about how they are feeling. Listening is the best way to help.

If they’ve been diagnosed with a mental health condition, such as depression, you can speak to a member of their care team for help and advice. If you don’t have these details contact their GP or your nearest accident and emergency (A&E).

We can all take positive action to help prevent suicide by looking out for the warning signs.

Take any suicidal talk or behaviour seriously, it is a warning sign and a plea for help.

See the Signs - what warning signs to look out for:

Here are some warning signs to look out for that could indicate someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings:

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  • Talking or complaining of feeling hopeless and that life is not worth living
  • Talking about feeling trapped, such as saying they can’t see any way out of their current situation
  • Saying that friends and family would be better off without them
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
  • A sudden lift in mood after a period of severe depression
  • Looking into methods or the means to end their own life
  • Putting all their affairs in order, such as sorting out possessions or making a will
  • Saying that they can hear voices telling them to end their own life

Act early

If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.

Getting professional help early can reduce the risk of harm but talking to friends and family can also be very helpful. If there is an immediate danger, make sure they are not left on their own.

Don’t be afraid to ask directly about suicide

Bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

It will not make their feelings worse or ‘give them ideas’. In fact the opposite is true. For many people it can be a huge relief to be asked the question in a direct way.

Asking someone directly may also give them a chance to open up about their feelings and help them to think about more positive options rather than suicide.

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Offering Support - listen and talk

  • Learning that a friend or family member has suicidal thoughts can be worrying and frightening
  • Try to encourage them to talk. Use open questions (any question not requiring a yes or no answer e.g. how, what, where, who, when, tell me about...)
  • Focus on listening to what they’re saying and not trying to think of solutions. Listening in a sympathetic and caring way is one of the most helpful things you can do

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Last Updated: 29 August 2019